Oxford Lancers vs Winchester Silverbacks Match Report 30/1/22
Oxford Lancers 23-18 Winchester Silverbacks
Tilsley Park, Abingdon
The Oxford Lancers followed up their win against the UCL Emperors with a fixture the very next week against the Winchester Silverbacks. Both COVID-19 and the injury bug were in full effect, taking out multiple starters on both sides of the ball and giving other Lancers an opportunity to step up.
The Winchester Silverbacks received the opening kickoff and went three-and-out, giving the Lancers a taste of the attritional Wildcat style they would be running all day. After the ensuing punt, quarterback Nolan Whitcomb led the Lancers offence onto the field.
What followed was a methodical drive, filled with running back David Ojeabulu carving up the Silverback defense with powerful running, spin moves, and speed. Nolan Whitcomb capped off the drive with a short pass over the middle to wide receiver Drew Robertson, the Lancer’s chief redzone target. Kicker Ollie Williams split the uprights to put the Lancers up 7-0.
When the Silverbacks got the ball back, they again went three-and-out after excellent work by the entire defense plugging gaps up front and shedding blockers to stop Winchester’s wildcat sweeps. This drive, the Silverbacks mixed it up with a pass on 3rd down that fell at the feet of Owen Morris due to excellent coverage and a relentless pass rush. The Lancers returned the favor, with quarterback Joel Chesters scrambling left on 3rd down, but unable to reach the 1st down marker. This brought punter Ollie Williams onto the field to pin the Silverbacks back.
On the following drive, the Silverbacks unsuccessfully attempted to shock their offense into life with a change at quarterback. While the change offered more of a passing threat, the Lancer’s defensive backfield stayed in front of the Winchester receivers and once again forced a punt. After a sensational cutback by David Ojeabulu gave the Lancers a first down, a Nolan Whitcomb pass over the middle was intercepted to give Winchester the ball back.
The Silverbacks finally began moving the ball, with their wildcat quarterback showing his athleticism, gashing the Lancer defense up the middle and around the outside. They found the endzone with a clutch scamper to the outside on 4th down from the Lancer 8 yard line. After Owen Morris broke up a pass on the following 2-pt attempt, the score favored the Lancers 7-6.
Joel Chesters lead out the Lancer offense with the ball at the Lancer 25 yard line. The Lancers drove deep into Silverback territory with multiple long Ojeabulu and Chesters runs. Unfortunately, after a few incomplete deep passes at Bill De La Rosa and Drew Robertson, the Lancers came up empty and stalled in the redzone.
Winchester got the ball deep in their own territory and stalled after a few completed screens were quickly snuffed out by the Lancer defense. After a long punt, the Lancers reclaimed the ball and Whitcomb led the Lancer offense back onto the field. After the Silverbacks jumped offsides on first down, a pass intended for Ollie Williams on a crossing route over the middle was intercepted by the Winchester defense. This set them up deep inside Lancer territory with the opportunity to even the score before halftime. Winchester wasted no time, lobbing a pass over the Lancer secondary and into the arms of their receiver in the back of the endzone. A tremendous block-shed on the 2-pt attempt by Alex Fogassy allowed him to stuff the quarterback on one of Winchester’s trademark sweeps, leaving the score 12-7 Silverbacks.
With the clock approaching halftime, the Lancers were down 5 points and had conceded more points than ever before at Tilsley Park. The response was an emphatic 60-yard return by Ojeabulu on the following kickoff to put the Lancers once more in striking distance. Ojeabulu followed it up with two strong runs through the Silverback secondary to put the Lancers back in the lead. After another successful Ollie Williams extra point, the Lancers carried a slim 2 point lead into the locker room at halftime.
Another emphatic Ojeabulu return positioned the Lancer offense at midfield to begin the second half. A short pass to Saketh Subramanian and a bulldozing run up the sideline by Ojeabulu positioned the Lancers once again inside the Winchester 30. After a Joel Chesters scramble earned the Lancers another first down, the Winchester defense kicked into gear. A draw up the middle seemingly resulted in another touchdown but an unfortunate penalty pushed the Lancers back. This forced an Ollie Williams field goal, leaving the score 17-12 Lancers.
On the following position, the Winchester offense never got in gear with excellent pass coverage and run stuffing forcing a shanked punt. Taking over at the Winchester 40, Joel Chesters and the Lancer offense never got the ball moving. A series of incomplete passes down the field forced another Ollie Williams punt. Williams deftly collected a stray snap before launching a high punt just past the outstretched arms of a Winchester defender to pin Winchester at their own 1 yard line.
Winchester wasted no time in the shadow of their own endzone with a receiver catching a slant and evading the Lancer secondary for a gain of 45 yards. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Winchester offense stood at midfield with the opportunity to take the lead. These hopes were immediately dashed when linebacker Tom Ricketts intercepted a deflected pass to give the Lancers the ball back. Chesters showcased his versatility by lining up at receiver and evading Winchester defenders to turn a short pass from Whitcomb into a 15 yard gain. Whitcomb followed this up with a highlight reel touchdown run that was ultimately called back. On an ensuing broken play, Chesters, now playing running back, caught an improvised pass from a scrambling Whitcomb and evaded multiple Silverback defenders to put the Lancers back at the Winchester 20 yard line. On the very next play, receiver Ollie Williams collected a short pass over the middle and scampered into the endzone, making the score 23-12 Lancers. The following 2-pt attempt was stuffed in the backfield.
Winchester got back into the game with an emphatic drive full of their characteristic outside runs, testing a Lancer defense with a depleted secondary and without an injured Drew Robertson. A 30 yard scramble from the Winchester quarterback put them inside the Lancer 10, where they soon scored in a touchdown to make the score 23-18 Lancers.
The Lancer offense stalled on the following position, but took valuable time off the clock before a booming Joel Chesters punt flipped field position. The Silverbacks had the beginnings of a game-winning drive before Tom Ricketts made his second interception, icing the game.
The Silverbacks proved tough opposition with their smashmouth style of offense and gritty defense. The Lancers were afflicted by both COVID and injuries, with contributions down the depth chart pulling them across the finish line of a nervy contest. The Lancers were 4-0 with the Cavalier Cup and the divisional title to play for in the weeks to come.
Pass - 7/22, 85 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Run - 25 rushes for 214 yards, TD
MVP - David Ojeabulu
15 rushes for 128 yards, TD
1 reception, 14 yards
OMVP - Nolan Whitcomb
Pass - 7/11, 85 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Run - 4 rushes for 16 yards
DMVP - Miles Keat
4 tackles, 2 PDEFs
Hammer - Alex Fogassy
4.5 tackles, 1 sack, TFL
STMVP - Ollie Williams
1 reception, 16 yards, TD
1 field goal, 2 PATs
Juice - David’s big kick return!